OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Alameda County sheriff's officers conduct high-speed chases with "reckless disregard for public safety," according to class action from an "innocent third-party bystander" whose leg was nearly severed during a pursuit.
William B. Riley claims the sheriff's office has virtually no guidelines whatsoever for high-speed chases, though California law requires it to have criteria to "determine the factors to be considered by a peace officer and supervisor in determining speeds throughout a pursuit."
The Alameda County Sheriff's Office is "silent" on the issue, Riley says in his Oct. 29 lawsuit in Alameda County Court. He claims that nothing in the sheriff's policy "sets forth any speed limits or guidelines whatsoever" for high-speed chases.
"With no limits on speed, suspected violators set the pace, and 'orders' to terminate are ignored," according to the complaint.
Riley, 61, seeks to be class representative because as he drove his motorcycle through an Oakland intersection, he was struck at 85 mph by a car that was being "recklessly pursued" by sheriff's officers "through miles of heavily populated city surface streets."
He says he was "thrown head-first onto the hood of the speeding Maxima, his leg nearly severed, bones protruding, and blood gushing profusely, as Alameda County Sheriff's officers continued their high-speed pursuit for yet another 2.1 miles, in direct violation of a supervising officer's repeated orders to terminate the pursuit."
He seeks to represent a class of "all persons who suffered civil damages for personal injury to or death of any person or damage to property resulting from the collision of a vehicle being operated by an actual or suspected violator of the law" being pursued by a peace officer employed with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
He also seeks an injunction ordering the sheriff to develop and policy and train his officers, and punitive damages for negligence, nuisance, and intentional misrepresentation, from the county and sheriff's office and the teenagers who drove the Maxima, and their parents.
He is represented by Timothy Rumberger, of Alameda, who did not respond to a request for comment Monday. Nor did the sheriff's office.
Many California cities and law enforcement agencies began curtailing high-speed chases and developing policies on them after six people, including four students, were killed near Temecula High School in 1992 during a high-speed chase by the Border Patrol.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.